“Is that your car?” she exclaimed. Her wheelchair halted in the middle of the sidewalk as she gaped at the vintage black Dodge Charger at the curb.
If most people—okay, literally any people—were to exclaim at my car like that, I’d be tempted to leave tread marks on their forehead as I sped off on the way to not giving a flying fuck.
But Virginia wasn’t any people. She was Neo’s little sister. So I bit back the biting reply to scratch behind my ear. “Well, I know it’s not exactly the cushy SUV Neo probably uses—”
“It’s way better!” Her arms flung up over her head in excitement. As they dropped, she rotated at the waist to find me with sparkling chestnut eyes. “Can I drive?”
It took me a heartbeat to digest the fact she liked the car and then another to realize she just asked to drive. Cheeky.
“Nobody drives my car but me.” I scowled.
Her lashes batted. “But I’m a really good driver.”
A con artist. Just like her brother.
“Don’t listen to her. She just ran over old Mr. Donaldson’s foot last week. The man acted like he was dying for days,” Emogen cracked from near the entrance to the Tower.
“Such a drama queen,” Virginia muttered. “He was wearing shoes.”
My lips curled inward so the scowl I favored so much couldn’t morph into a smile.
“Besides. It’s this clunky thing’s fault.” V patted the side of her wheelchair. “It’s clearly not as superb as this.” Her hands spread wide as if introducing the car.
“You wouldn’t be able to reach the pedals,” I told her on my way past to open up the passenger door.
A sound of horror filled the air. “How dare you discriminate against me because I’m short!”
I couldn’t help it. I smiled. Good thing I was facing inside the car when it happened. Wiping it off my face, I spun back, boots stomping over the uneven pavement as I closed the distance between us.
I didn’t like the way she craned her neck to stare up at me, and before I’d realized it, I’d dropped into a crouch in front of her chair, bringing us to eye level.
A little fissure of surprise flickered in her expression, but it was gone before I could really grasp hold.
Leaning in, I whispered, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… your legs don’t work.”
A delicate, small-fingered hand with yellow-painted nails flew up to cover her mouth. The shock pouring from her eyes made me frown. Had I gone too far?
A prickle of unfamiliar conscience stung the back of my neck, and my tongue started to move in apology before my lips even parted. “V—”
A little giggle bubbled out around the hand pressed against her lips.
My stare whipped up. Her eyes were glimmering, not with upset… but with humor.
More giggles burst out, and her narrow shoulders shook with it. A summer breeze blew down the street, tugging at a long strand of hair that had come loose from the braids she always wore. It wiggled around behind her like it, too, was laughing.
Her hand dropped, revealing a warm smile. “I missed you.”
Those words were like a magic wand, the kind so powerful that, with just one flourish, it could put everything to sleep around you. Suddenly, the obnoxious city quieted. The scent of garbage always lingering in the streets disappeared. My fingers curled into my palms, tightening my hands into fists.
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